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Ricky Williams to seek reinstatement to NFL next month

MIAMI -- Bad news for NFL linebackers, good news for soap opera fans: Ricky Williams is planning another comeback.

The suspended running back is eligible to seek reinstatement by the NFL after Oct. 1 and will do so, his attorney said Friday.

In recent years, Williams has made more headlines than first downs, playing in only 12 NFL games since the start of the 2004 season. His current suspension began in April 2006 after he violated the league's drug policy for the fourth time, and a positive test for marijuana this April delayed his return.

Williams' attorney, David Cornwell, said they spoke by phone Thursday.

"He sounds wonderful," Cornwell said. "He sounds like he's in a great place, and I'm confident that will come through to the commissioner."

It's uncertain how quickly the 30-year-old Williams might be cleared to return -- or where he would play. He remains under contract with Miami, where he won the NFL rushing title in 2002, but first-year Dolphins coach Cam Cameron has given no indication he wants Williams.

Discussing Williams' most recent relapse in May, Cameron said it's difficult to salvage the careers of troubled players.

"The easiest predictor of future behavior is previous behavior," the coach said.

Dolphins general manager Randy Mueller is unlikely to lobby for Williams' return. It was Mueller who traded Williams to Miami when both were with the New Orleans Saints in 2002.

Since that deal, the Dolphins have endured a five-year playoff drought, the longest in franchise history.

Even if Miami no longer wants Williams, there's likely a market for player who rushed for 3,225 yards in 2002-03 -- assuming he can persuade a team he's eager to play. That has been a subject of debate in the past.

"All indications I have are that he has an interest in playing," Cornwell said. "He's a very eclectic young man with a lot of interests, and I think that's good. It's good for the NFL to have such players.

"I don't think he would go through this process if he didn't have a desire to play."

An NFL spokesman confirmed Williams is eligible to apply for reinstatement after Oct. 1 but declined further comment.

Cornwell said the process to seek reinstatement requires Williams to show he has followed the requirements of the NFL drug policy. Cornwell said commissioner Roger Goodell would decide whether to hold any face-to-face meetings.

Cornwell declined to say how quickly he thought Williams might be cleared to play.

"That's a hard thing to gauge," Cornwell said. "The commissioner has to collect a number of reports and information. I'm sure he'll move expeditiously, but I don't know what that translates into in terms of hours, days or weeks."

The season will be four weeks old before Williams is eligible to seek reinstatement.

Williams spent an extended vacation in Australia and India during a one-year retirement in 2004. He played in the Canadian Football League in 2006, then taught yoga in California.

Cornwell declined to say what Williams has been doing in recent months -- or even what hemisphere he's in.

"I don't know," Cornwell said with a laugh. "I spoke to him over the phone, so I don't want to be misleading."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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